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January 16, 2007

The Talking Dog interviews Gitmo lawyer H. Candace Gorman

CUBA GUANTANAMO, originally uploaded by jeremyiankirk.

What kind of person defends Gitmo detainees for free? Find out as the Talking Dog interviews H. Candace Gorman a Chicago-based employment lawyer who is defending two prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Gorman doesn't yet know what one of her clients is alleged to have done, even though she's been his lawyer for some time. He's been at Gitmo for five years. So, initially she was concerned that he wouldn't know her from an interrogator on her first visit. (Talk about not being able to participate in your own defense.)

Gorman spent her first visit with the client talking about Harry Potter and trying to win his trust. On her next visit she hopes to find out more about what he supposedly did.

Her other client is a Libyan draft dodger who moved to Afghanistan to avoid military service. He was turned in for a bounty. Initially, he was found not to be an enemy combatant, but his status was revised when his case was reviewed in Washington. Gorman is also working to get this detainee treated for hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

Gorman writes about her work with the detainees on The Guantanamo Blog and contributes to The Huffington Post.

Here's Gorman's stinging open letter to the assistant secretary of defense who urged corporate clients to boycott firms that do pro bono Gitmo work.


Actually ``employment lawyer'' isn't, at least not to me, helpful. From reading the interview, it seems that what she does is employment anti-discrimination law & the like. She sues corporations for discrimination in hiring and promotion, I suspect. Perhaps she also takes on harrassment cases, and maybe other things as well. Maybe ``employment lawyer'' summarizes all that, but it doesn't make explicit that she is ``worker-side'' rather than management-side.

Paul, I can't really fathom why it's even remotely relevant to the topic of this post, but Gorman appears, in her most famous case, to have represented the plaintiffs, although her WestLaw profile does list her in both the "Employment Law - Employee" and "Employment Law - Employer" categories, so she may yet be too ideologically impure for you.

It would be typical for an employment lawyer to litigate both traditional discrimination claims and harassment claims, due to the shared legal and procedural issues for both types of litigation.

Speaking of Charles "Cully" Stimson: he's apologized for questioning the integrity of lawyers defending detainees in Guantanamo.

Unfortunately, he still has his job, but I suppose this is good news of a sort.

"Gorman doesn't yet know what one of her clients is alleged to have done, even though she's been his lawyer for some time. "

Seriously though, if you just change "Gorman" to one of the character's names, couldn't this sentence be straight from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial? A man forced to defend himself against charges he is never allowed to know? Lawyers who agree to help, also without knowing the charges? The parallels with the novel are surprising. Who would have thought a nation with a supposedly strong allegience to the rule of law could end up in this situation?

Exactly. It's surreal what the detainees and their lawyers go through.

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